Seaweed feed firm generates €1.4m in funds to hike capacity

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Seaweed feed firm generates €1.4m in funds to hike capacity

Related tags Immune system

An Ireland based macroalgae derived feed ingredient firm has raised €1.4m in funding to significantly boost production output.

The investment round included private investors from the US and elsewhere, said Ocean Harvest Technology, which has its R&D facilities in Galway, on the west coast of Ireland.

“We can’t reveal who the US investor is until the money is in the bank but the funds will allow for two more production lines in our current factory bringing total capacity to 6,000 ton a month,”​ said the scientific director and one of the founders of the business, Dr Stefan Kraan.   

Ocean Harvest, he said, has leveraged other similar investment rounds to set up production facilities, develop new products, and carry out significant scientific and commercial trials.   

The Canadian-registered company, which also has production facilities in Vietnam, has been supplying the animal feed sector globally for five years. 

In terms of pipeline projects, Kraan told FeedNavigator the supplier is planning to establish a new plant in the Philippines in 2016 as well as roll out new products, with an emphasis on the immune system and sea lice disease reduction.    

Seaweed species

The company, said Kraan, uses about 20 different species for fish, cattle, or pig feed rations.

“Formulations are based on the bioactives in the seaweed. We look at the animal and the issues and diseases they have in that industry. We then mix and match the species to tackle those issues.

Some species we grow in our seaweed farms, others we cultivate in tanks and we get certain species harvested from the wild,” ​he said. 

Kraan said protein, in general, is low in seaweed, with some exceptions for certain red algae.

“In respect of energy, seaweeds contain only about 3% fat, although the fatty acid profile is very interesting with some exotic c22-c28 fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory functionality. Nevertheless, this is not the reason why we use seaweeds.” 

It is the antioxidant content of seaweed, he said, that is most appealing. It can exert a sub-level immune response in the animal, said Kraan. 

Macroalgae, he said, also has “unique polysaccharides that improve gut health, antibacterial anti adhesion compounds, mycotoxin binders, pigments that stimulate omega-3 production and some rare trace elements.”​ 

The company’s macroalgae derived feed ingredients aim at tackling antibiotic and ractopamine replacement in pigs, boosting milk yield and fertility increase in dairy cows, as well as lowering FCR, increasing omega-3 levels and reducing sea lice in salmon production.

He also told us Ocean Harvest’s drying process is environmentally friendly: “We simply solar dry our seaweeds, or, in the case of Ireland, we use dehumidifiers. Companies that still dry their seaweeds with drum driers and open flame are either antiquated or do not know what they are doing as it destroys the bioactives and actually increases the dioxin and PCB content in the seaweed.”

The company, he added, is organically certified and has GMP+ and FEMAS accreditation: “So our products are sustainable, traceable, safe and HACCP approved.”​ 

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